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February 2024

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Orchestra

Bach, Johann Sebastian / Casella, Alfredo
Ciaccona’ from the 2nd Partita for Violin solo BWV 1004, orch. interpretation by Alfredo Casella

(b. Eisenach, 31 March 1685 – d. Leipzig, 28 July 1750)

(1720)

(b. Turin, 25 July 1883 – d. Rome, 5 March 1947)

Preface

Alfredo Casella
Alfredo Casella is the scion of a highly respected Italian family of musicians. His grandfather Pietro Casella, a friend of Nicolò Paganini, was a solo cellist in Lisbon and Turin. All three of his sons were also important cellists. The youngest of them, Carlo Casella, Alfredo’s father, deviated from the entertaining virtuoso line and had an immense passion for the solo suites of Johann Sebastian Bach, which Alfredo absorbed as ‘father’s milk’, so to speak. A close friend of his was Alfredo Piatti, at the time the most eminent Italian cello virtuoso and Alfredo’s godfather. While his father made a living as a sought-after teacher for as long as his health permitted, it was his mother, an extremely strong-willed, highly cultivated woman, who was responsible for Alfredo’s upbringing. Alfredo Casella was introduced to the best classical chamber music from an early age and received his first piano lessons from his mother at the age of five. He made astonishing progress, but soon proved to be exceptionally gifted and interested in the natural sciences, and two great men took a keen interest in his development: the physicist Galileo Ferraris (1847-97) and Italy’s leading symphonist Giuseppe Martucci. For several years it was not clear whether Casella would become a musician or a scientist. On April 15, 1894, he made his public debut as a pianist. He now received extensive musical training, read scientific books and Shakespeare excessively and learned German and French in a very short time. In 1895, he heard the Italian premiere of Richard Wagner’s ‘Götterdämmerung’ under Arturo Toscanini and memorized the score. His father died in August 1896. …

 

Bax, Arnold
Symphony No. 2

(b. Streatham/London, 8 November 1883 – d. Cork/Irland, 3 October 1953)

(1924-26)

I Molto moderato (p. 1) – Un poco più mosso (p. 13) – Allegro moderato (p. 16) – Con vivo (p. 32) – Molto largamente (p. 36) – Moderato semplice (p. 40) – Poco più lento (p. 45) – Lento espressivo (p. 49) – Allegro moderato (p. 51) – Riotously (p. 61) – Molto energico (p. 62) – Moderato (p. 65) – Allegro moderato (p. 70) – Molto moderato (p. 72) – Vivace (p. 75)
II Andante (p. 76) – Poco meno mosso (p. 82) – Tempo primo (p. 84) – Più mosso (p. 95) – Poco largamente (p. 98) – Tempo primo (p. 101)
III Poco largamente (p. 108) – Allegro feroce (p. 109) – Meno mosso (p. 136) – Molto largamente (p. 144)

Preface
Arnold Bax grew up in very well-off circumstances and enjoyed a rather liberal and fundamentally artistic upbringing. From 1893, the family moved into the idyllic parkland grounds of Ivy Bank in Hampstead High Street, a true “island of the blessed” on the periphery of cosmopolitan restlessness. The dreamy element in his psyche, feverishly longing to escape the everyday and often leaning out blindly and ignoring danger, which was a prominent character trait, is probably rooted in this family seclusion, which took little notice of the brittle outside world. The world of dreams could expand almost endlessly here, and a creatively open-minded young person like Arnold found material for life in these dreams, which actually sufficed for almost an entire lifetime. His material circumstances were so generous that he never had to worry about earning an income, and so he almost never worked as a teacher. His younger brother Clifford made a name for himself as a respected poet for his time, while Arnold showed eminent musical talent. …

 

Koechlin, Charles
Les heures persanes Op. 65 bis for orchestra

(b. Paris, November 27, 1867 — d. Le Canadel, Var, France, December 31, 1950)

(The Persian Hours)

Preface
Charles Koechlin was born into a large upper-middle-class Protestant family in Paris on Nov. 27, 1867 and died on the last day of the year in 1950. His father was a textile designer. However, music, indeed all the arts played a key role in the family. His sister played the piano and early on he was moved by the music of Bach upon hearing a cantata in a church setting. Bach’s music became a lifelong obsession as he stated: “Perhaps it is necessary to love Bach to understand Koechlin.”

Following the wishes of his father, he was admitted to the Ecole Polytechnique in 1887 to study engineering. Both an unenthusiastic and poor student he left two years later and following his passion, entered the Paris Conservatoire. He studied composition with Jules Massenet, Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Ravel. His opus 1, Cinq Rondels for voice and piano was completed at age 23. In the following sixty years he authored a large quantity of music, numbering more than 200 works. In his lifetime, Koechlin was more well-known as an author, theorist and teacher than as a composer. His writings include a multi-volume treatise on music theory, Traite de l’harmonie and an extensive four-volume treatise on orchestration Traite de l’orchestration. …

Opera

Mascagni, Pietro
Iris (complete opera score in three acts with Italian libretto)

Synopsis

Act One
Outside the little cottage belonging to Iris and her blind father.

An orchestral depiction of night giving way to dawn leads to a chorus representing the sun whose rays give warmth, life and love to every living thing (Son Io la Vita!).

Iris has dreamt that her sick doll was threatened by monsters, but the sun rose and dispelled the nightmare (Ho fatto un triste sogno…S’era malata).

Osaka and Kyoto have been watching her from a distance. Osaka is determined that Iris will become his mistress. They leave to formulate a plan as Iris leads her father into the sunshine to say his prayers. A group of women (mousmés) wash linen in the nearby stream, as Iris waters her garden (In pure stille).
Osaka and Kyoto return disguised as wandering players, leading a troupe of geishas, samurai and musicians. A puppet theatre is erected, and the mousmés watch the performance. Iris remains close to her father, but watches everything with growing emotion. …

Solo Piano

Kasberg Evensen, Bernt
Sonata pour le piano, Op. 7 (first edition, performance score)

Evensen has a very personal and unique tonal language. He has a keen awareness of the intrinsic tension of intervals and, although his music is often harmonically and contrapuntally complex, rare is the composition where he does not include one or several unison passages where intervals are allowed to stand starkly, creating a dramatic play of tension and release. Since the 1980s Evensen has experimented with scales derived from the writings of theosophist Anny von Lange. He has also used twelve-tone techniques in a free, personal way. Ravel has remained a favourite composer through Evensen’s life, an influence the essence of which he has assimilated into his music without ever resorting to idle imitation.

Evensen’s first piano Sonata op. 7 shares its opus number with Grieg’s only piano sonata. Both are youthful works. Evensen was 21 years old when he composed it. His first documented work, also for piano, comes from his 18th year. This sonata is, therefore, a very early work in Evensen’s output. As such, it is strongly marked by the exuberance of youth. …

Scores in preparations February 2024

Fairchild, Blair
Légende Op.31

Wieniawski, Henri
Suite romantique pour orchestre

Prokofiev, Sergei
Puschkiniana

Saint-Saëns, Camille
Africa

Strauss, Richard
Kampf und Sieg

Donizetti, Gaetano
Anna Bolena

Raff, Joachim
Sinfonietta Op. 188

Reger, Max
Orchesterlieder

Liszt, Franz
Chöre zu Herders ‘Entfesselter Prometheus’

Zilcher, Hermann
Suite für 2 Violinen und Orchester, Op. 15

Götz, Hermann
Der 137. Psalm Op. 14

Jongen, Joseph
Fantaisie Op. 24

Rubinstein, Anton
Suite for orchestra Op. 119

Tcherepnin, Alexander
Magna Mater for orchestra

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